Divorce can be a very isolating time. For me, it wasn’t so much the months after we had separated but more the months leading up to my decision and the months my ex and I spent talking about it. I was withdrawing socially because I wanted to avoid questions I didn’t want to answer. Once we’d separated and the end of our marriage was public knowledge, it was a huge relief for me. Finally, I could talk about it.
Divorce doesn’t happen that way for everyone and certainly for Debbie, the discovery that her husband was a pedophile meant dealing with one of our culture’s most despised, darkest ills. I asked Debbie, what resources, in addition to the support of her therapist, helped her through this time. Here’s Debbie:
At first, I was thinking we were going to work on this and our marriage. I did a lot of research on sex addiction and found this Sexaholic Anonymous group but it didn’t have a spouses group. I remember talking to my husband about some of the people in his group, who they were, did they have wives and so on. Most of their marriages had broken up. So I thought,
“That’s not going to help to talk to anyone.”
Then when the child abuse came out, it went from the ‘being married to a sex addict’ to ‘being married to a pedophile.’ It totally changed the dynamic and nobody stays married to a pedophile. It just wasn’t out there.
I went to an Al-Anon meeting once but the issues were so different. Someone who abuses alcohol has very different issues from someone who abuses children so Al-Anon was not helpful.
I think part of it is pedophilia is very secretive or maybe my story is unique. I keep thinking there’s got to be other people, I just haven’t found them. I found bits and pieces.
There’s a book by Julie Metz, Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal. It’s the story of her husband who died suddenly. Then, after his death, she found out that he had been cheating on her. Once again there were no children issues, there were no men issues. It was infidelity. I read that book and it was helpful.
I also read Silent Partner: A memoir of My Marriage by Dina McGreevey. She’s the wife of the former New Jersey governor who came out as gay while in office.
Writing and talking about it has helped. I went through a lot of soul-searching when I started thinking about writing about my experience. I certainly am willing to have this open in my life but I’ve been very purposeful so it can’t be linked back to my son. I haven’t put my last name on my blog and my picture’s not on it so hopefully I’ve put enough protections in place so my son or one of his friends, doesn’t find it.
Eventually, I’m going to tell him. He already knows bits and pieces of it. I’m not planning for him not to know but I think I’ve balanced my need to reach out with my need and desire to protect him.
When this first happened, I fell apart. I cried, I broke down, sometimes I couldn’t work, sometimes I could not take care of my son. What got me through was allowing myself to feel what I needed to feel and to let people help me. I could not have survived without my family and friends. So that’s one take away – reach out and ask for help and accept it.
I can imagine how isolating this was for Debbie. As I’ve been writing this and doing various searches for links, I’ve seen very little about women being married to pedophiles. I’m glad Debbie is sharing her story, not only with Since My Divorce but also on her own blog at My Everyday Journey – I don’t believe her situation is unique and because of her, another woman won’t have to wonder if she’s the only one married to a pedophile.
Debbie’s advice about asking for help too, is a lesson a number of women have spoken about. Melanie explains it was hard to ask for help because she’d always thought of herself as an independent woman. For me it meant having to come clean that I couldn’t manage to do it all myself. I’ve found that people are very willing to help once asked and I like being given the opportunity to help them too.